Bringing Kazuya to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: A clash between fighting game design choices

Bringing Kazuya to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: A clash between fighting game design choices (Image via Nintendo)
Bringing Kazuya to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: A clash between fighting game design choices (Image via Nintendo)

Earlier today, Kazuya Mishima’s gameplay in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was explored in detail by Masahiro Sakurai for almost half an hour. Up until now the community could only speculate on how Sakurai and his team would fit Kazuya into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Bringing Kazuya to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate risked the character falling into one of two traps. He would either be far too true to his functionality in Tekken, rendering him useless for the extremely different gameplay Super Smash Ultimate has.

Or he could lose his identity as a Tekken character simply to cater to Smash Ultimate’s core gameplay.

Mr. Sakurai today expressed the same fear in bringing Kazuya to Smash Ultimate.

He explained that retaining Kazuya’s identity while making him viable to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was one of his long-time ambitions and one of the biggest challenges he faced.

Bringing Kazuya to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: A clash between fighting game design choices

What makes Super Smash Bros. Ultimate different from Tekken?

Tekken is commonly described as a footsie fighter. It’s one of the few 3D fighters in the market and is certainly the most popular one. The gameplay revolves around characters attempting to break through each other’s defense with a variety of different moves.

The game requires players to be extremely aware of each other's movements to deal with attacks that can either hit low, high or overhead. Or perhaps function as a throw.

In comparison, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate does not emphasize on the characters different attacks by the virtue of how they can hit the opponent. Super Smash Bros.

Ultimate’s offense revolves around positional control of the character and can be generalized as a battle of managing heights and distances.

Characters are constantly shifting out of safety and danger to risk landing attacks on their opponents, and the game only offers a short dodge and a limited block as the defensive options during exchanges.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a faster paced and offense oriented game than Tekken and the average Smash character moves far faster and has more range than the average Tekken character.

How would Kazuya translate into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate if he was a faithful recreation of his Tekken self?

The short answer is, not well. He would be extremely weak, and would struggle simply to get into range with the opponent. In a game that is so focused on creating safe spaces to attack from, it would seem as though Kazuya is constantly at the risk of getting beat up.

The only solution to this problem would be to significantly speed up Kazuya’s gameplay and attacks and only have a small portion of his tool set that make him viable in the game. But at that point Kazuya would no longer be a Tekken character, he’d be a smash character.

Fans of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate can expect a well fleshed out character for their use against opponents.

Two of Kazuya’s greatest allies in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Armor and his devil form

Super Smash Bro. Ultimate has been relentless in adding new characters to its roster and his unveiling has got fans buzzing. Having said that, it’s inevitable that some of Kazuya’s moves had to be significantly sped up to make them reliable tools in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

But he’s retained a huge chunk of his complexity and moveset from Tekken all while being able to push out an offense that works in Smash. How?

The answer is having armor on his most reliable pokes, and extremely good specials inspired by his devil form from Tekken 7. What does this mean? Let’s look into the devil form first.

Kazuya’s devil form

Kazuya in Tekken 7 is capable of transforming into a devil and unleashing powerful variations of his regular moves. These moves greatly compensate for situations where Kazuya cannot use his normals.

  • His neutral special, the lazer move is a reliable way to keep opponents off the stage or force them towards Kazuya.
  • His down special’s armor and damage is an incredible way to punish projectile spammers, or foes that depend on single hit long range moves
  • His side specials put the opponent in stagger long enough to do some extremely cool combos with his normals
  • His up special gives him great mobility in the air and compensate for his otherwise short regular jump

Each move seems to have been designed to deal with foes looking to exploit Kazuya’s unreliable normals and allow him to pull off Tekken combos in the game.


Moves with armor are capable of absorbing damage whilst being active and ignore the opponent’s attempts to interrupt the player. This allows Kazuya to use moves despite being at the risk of getting hit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Some of his normals and his down special are blessed with armor and these are his best tools undoubtedly to initiate an offense against the enemy.

Why is Kazuya blessed with rage?

Sometimes armor and devil form are not enough to win matches in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The main problem is that despite being able to put out an offense, Kazuya will inevitably get hit more and possibly be the first to get knocked out.

It’s for this reason that he seems to be blessed with an incredibly potent comeback mechanic: rage.

After reaching 100%, Kazuya enters a rage state during which his moves inflict 1.1x more damage and he gains access to an incredibly powerful move called a rage drive.

The rage drive is a highly damaged version of Kazuya’s down special and is capable of killing off opponents even if they didn’t take much damage earlier. With such a diverse roster, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will leave players spoilt for choice.

Working with one button: How Kazuya has retained some of the depth he has in Tekken

Kazuya has the biggest arsenal of normals in the entire game. However, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate uses only one button for normal moves. Here's how the developers bypassed this limitation:

  • By implementing a unique normal for the eight possible directional inputs with the analog stick
  • Having certain moves come out only by delaying inputs
  • Using command normals. Or in other words locking behind certain normals behind motion inputs

Meanwhile, motion inputs have been seen before for characters in Super Smash Bro. Ultimate, like Ryu and Ken, it is certainly the first time the community has seen a character that depends this heavily on directional input.

It makes it easier to mis-input moves, and he requires a great deal of control on the analog stick. Super Smash Bro. Ultimate has shaped up so many childhoods throughout the years and that'll remain to be the case.

Edited by Sijo Samuel Paul

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